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Rs 100-crore bribe slur and question for BJP

A bus waits to carry MLAs infront of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee office 
in Bangalore on Wednesday. (PTI)

Bangalore: Janata Dal Secular leader H.D. Kumaraswamy on Wednesday accused the BJP of offering Rs 100 crore in cash and promising cabinet posts to newly elected members of his party in return for support to form the Karnataka government.

He told a news conference after being elected as the legislative party leader that the BJP had contacted "several" JDS legislators since Tuesday night with the plum offers.

"I want the people of Karnataka to understand what is happening. They have approached several of our members with offers of Rs 100 crore and cabinet posts," Kumaraswamy said.

"Where is this kind of black money coming from? Where is it stored? Do they give it in black or white money?" the JDS leader asked. "They always claim to be messiahs of the poor, but now they are offering this kind of money. What happened to the income tax officials?"

Kumaraswamy, who has received unconditional support from the Congress to form the government under his leadership, accused the BJP, which has emerged as the single-largest party but fallen short of the majority mark, of using its money power to break the Congress-JDS alliance, claiming that several BJP members were "ready" to switch over.

"With all their money in Delhi, they are out to break our party and the alliance. But in case they touch our members, let me caution them that 10 to 15 of their elected representatives are ready to come with us," Kumaraswamy said.

At the state Congress headquarters, party president G. Parameshwar echoed Kumaraswamy's claim and said the BJP had also contacted Congress members with offers. He, however, did not clarify what the offers were.

The BJP immediately got into damage-control mode with its central observer Prakash Javadekar denying his party had tried to poach Congress-JDS members.

"They have been rejected by the people. So they are trying to come to power through unholy means. They are levelling baseless charges against the BJP," said Union human resource development minister Javadekar.

"Poaching and horse-trading are not the business of the BJP. It is what the Congress and the JDS are famous for. But let me tell you, their own legislators are not happy with their alliance. So we are not doing anything," he added.

After the votes were counted on Tuesday, the BJP emerged as the single-largest party with 104 seats. But the Congress and the JDS quickly joined hands, taking their collective total to 116 seats, four more than the magic number of 112.

Kumaraswamy blamed the BJP's strategy of "splitting" secular votes for the current seat position. "They managed to get 104 only because of polarising the society and splitting secular votes. Otherwise they would have won much fewer seats," he said.

He urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Karnataka governor Vajubhai Vala not to take any decision that could trigger horse-trading and poaching.

"I know they are in a hurry to grab power, which is why they are capable of going to any extent," he said, accusing the BJP of resorting to cheap tactics to lure JDS members.

Kumaraswamy exuded confidence about forming a stable government with the support of the Congress and rubbished the BJP's claims that it was ready to prove its strength.

"How can they form a government without the requisite numbers?" he asked.

To a question whether he planned to herd his elected members to a holiday resort, Kumaraswamy said he would be forced to do so if the BJP continued its efforts to poach. "I will have to defend my party and the elected members," he said.

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